CHIME: Data exchange, telemedicine reimbursement vital to improving chronic disease care

Widespread health information exchange, revised telemedicine reimbursement policies and patient empowerment are all necessary to bolster treatment and prevention of chronic diseases, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) said in a letter to legislators serving in the Senate Finance Committee's Chronic Care Working Group this week.

The letter, dated June 15, was in response to the committee's call for input last month on how best to improve care for patients with chronic conditions; in a May 22 letter to healthcare stakeholders, the committee said input was "critical" to crafting bipartisan legislation aimed at boosting outcomes.

CHIME called a "high degree of data fluidity"--attainable via a longitudinal healthcare record--vital to cutting waste in the healthcare system, overall. It also said legislators must consider how to leverage the Meaningful Use program to ensure providers have electronic records systems capable of robust data exchange.

"The concept of a longitudinal healthcare record should reflect the patient's experience across episodes of care, payers, geographic locations and stages of life," the letter said. "It should consist of provider-, payer- and patient-generated data, and be accessible to all members of an individual's care team, including the patient, in a single location."

CHIME also called the ability to match patients with their data across providers "foundational to coordinated care," adding that the lack of a national patient identifier "aggravates" healthcare's technical challenges. CHIME repeatedly has called for a national patient identifier, going so far as to launch a $1 million challenge centered on its creation.  

Regarding telemedicine, CHIME said inconsistencies in definitions and reimbursement policies threatened adoption. "Differences in state laws, definitions and regulations create a confusing environment for hospitals and health systems that may care for a patient across state lines," the letter said.

Meanwhile, regarding patient engagement, CHIME said enabling asynchronous communication is the most efficient use of provider and patient resources. It also said that educational content should be available online for both patients and caregivers.

To learn more:
- here's CHIME's letter (.pdf)
- read the committee's letter from May (.pdf)